WASHINGTON—Saying the financial risks and hours of hard work would pay off in the long term, former president Barack Obama revealed Thursday that he has sunk his entire life’s savings into the development of a tabletop game based on the American presidency.
Obama confirmed that over the past 10 months, he has spent the bulk of his family’s net worth to create Commander In Chief: Executive Power, a hybrid role-playing and board game about running a presidential administration. He has reportedly devised more than 50 possible storylines players may encounter while they work together to complete a term in the Oval Office, planning fiscally sound federal budgets, negotiating trade deals with foreign countries, and delivering aid to states struck by natural disasters.
“Once Commander In Chief hits the market, it’s gonna blow up just like Terra Mystica did, but right now funding is the biggest issue,” said Obama, sitting at his dining room table and showing off a prototype that included a 4-by-4 foot game board, stacks of handwritten index cards labeled “event” and “item,” and a set of polyhedral dice. “I drained our bank account to pay this specialty manufacturer to make the game components, and I’m hoping the Kickstarter money will cover the cost of renting warehouse space to store the finished product.”
“I had to dip into Sasha’s college fund, so she may have to go to state school her first couple years,” the 44th president of the United States continued. “But once the game takes off and starts making money, she can transfer wherever she wants.”
The former president described the game as “a fully immersive executive-branch adventure for players 12 and up” and said it has a playing time of approximately 20 hours. According to Obama, one player acts as the president, leading the administration through various challenges, while the other players work together as vice president, chief of staff, and various cabinet secretaries to implement policy initiatives and maintain the day-to-day agenda of the West Wing.
Players reportedly must complete several side quests to keep the White House running, such as seeking Senate confirmations, hosting state dinners, and holding press conferences following national events such as mass shootings or holiday celebrations.
Obama estimated that Commander In Chief will sell for around $60 and will come with character sheets for players to track their stats, a 200-page hardcover “President’s Policy Guide” rulebook, and 15 pewter game pieces that include miniature replicas of the presidential seal, the Resolute desk, a manila briefing folder, and Uncle Sam.
“[Former first lady] Michelle [Obama] has really been on my case lately about having this stuff all over the dining room,” Obama said as he scribbled an idea for a Camp David expansion pack on one of the large whiteboards he had mounted on the walls. “But she doesn’t understand how much money we have tied up in this thing. I took out a second mortgage on the house, and with the funds from that I should be able to get a booth at the next PAX gaming convention.”
“Once people see how fun it is to craft and deliver their very own 90-minute State of the Union address covering every major issue in politics, they’re going to want to buy this,” he added, flipping through a legal pad filled with the game’s rules for appointing federal circuit judges.
Obama admitted that he spends nearly all his free time working on Commander In Chief, often staying up until three or four in the morning drawing character art of suit-and-tie-wearing politicians and consulting online forums for advice on game mechanics, action-selection methods, and victory conditions.
“I convinced Malia to beta-test it with me when she was home from school last weekend, but she said it wasn’t her thing,” Obama said. “We only made it to the midterm elections before her secretary of state character’s approval rating fell below 25 percent, knocking her out of the game. I got so into it I completely forgot about a speech I was supposed to give at Michelle’s Let Girls Learn event.”
“She was pretty steamed, but once the orders start rolling in, she’ll see it was all worth it,” he added.
At press time, Obama had reportedly dropped to his knees and begun shouting at former first dogs Bo and Sunny for shredding the game’s board and swallowing all its handmade playing pieces.